Monday, October 8, 2012

Eggless Chocolate Chip Cookies.

1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 banana
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (or more) semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup nuts or raisins or Skor bits (optional).

Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in banana, apple sauce and vanilla.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Then gradually blend in to creamed mixture.
Stir in chocolate chips along with anything else your heart desires. My personal fave is the Skor bits.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoons on to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (depending on your oven) at 375F.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Audrey Lily Von Bargen

It was a rough few weeks leading up to August 27th. It was an extremely hot summer and I was oober pregnant with a baby sitting on my sciatic nerve crippling me. Julian was still working full time AND teaching one day a week so I had a young toddler to chase all day long. Luckily a few days a month Adelaide would go to my sisters home daycare, and some days Julian's Mum would come take her for the afternoon or even for a sleepover. My Mum would come over and clean my house once a week. She could really sympathize with me because when she was pregnant with me, I was squishing her sciatic nerve. Without all that help, I'm not sure I would have made it! Well, I would have, but you know what I mean. The pain was sometimes unbearable. Just to move hurt SO much. I would get stuck on the stairs sometimes just paralysed from the pain. Sleeping was nearly impossible. I went to a chiropractor a few times and no relief. I used ice packs and did stretches, but nothing worked.

It wasn't until about 3 days leading up to the birth when I noticed I could walk without pain and without limping. It was a miracle! lol. I knew then that my pregnant days were numbered! I couldn't wait. Being in way less pain and being aware that I would never be pregnant again after this made it possible to enjoy and embrace those last few days. Julian was officially on paternity leave from his full time job and the class he was teaching was done! So, I just let myself do whatever I wanted. Eat whatever I wanted. Nap! Go out for brunches with friends. Go MCC shopping. After an eventful weekend I noticed the baby had dropped even more. When I went pee, there was a bit of blood. I had a bath and I lost the rest of my mucous plug. I noticed I was having way more contractions, but they weren't painful. Since Adelaide's birth was pretty fast, then this one was expected to be faster, so the midwives told me to call them as soon as something happened. I called and Lisa came by to check on me. I was obviously dilating, but of course since it's invasive and risky to check at that point in the pregnancy, we just agreed that I was in early labour, but that could last DAYS!!

Adelaide was having a sleepover at her Oma's that night, so Julian and I impatiently waited for something else to happen. I couldn't stop cleaning and then I couldn't stop thinking about food. So, we went and got a huge nacho poutine from the poutinery. And then I also wanted a sandwich, so we went to Stella's where I got a clubhouse with a caesar salad, LOL. So delicious! By midnight, nothing had changed, so we went to bed.

I woke up feeling anxious at about 4am. I wasn't in pain, but I was having very mild contractions. By 5am they were lasting about a minute and coming every 6 or 7 minutes. I felt nauseous so I ate an apple. By 7am I was feeling good about things. The contractions were every 5 or 6 minutes and they were more noticeable. I called my Mum for a heads up because she had the pump for the birthing pool.

At about 10am my Mum and Aunt were here setting up the pool in the living room. I was laying in the bath meditating and listening to Aretha Franklin. It was a slow start. By 1pm, nothing more was happening. In fact, it seemed like things had slowed down. So, I said to Julian, lets go for walk to Jonnies Sticky Buns! I knew that moving my hips and walking would help that baby down. Of course it was Monday, so Jonnies was closed. I was bummed. But we went in to Harry's Foods (which is now a Foodfare) and got some red raspberry leaf tea. I was pretty sure it wouldn't do much, but hey, it was worth a try I suppose. On the walk home I had a few contractions that brought me to a halt and I had to breath through them. When we got home I eagerly made myself a tea. I researched more about the tea and read that if you're in early labour (which I was) then it would help regulate your contractions, help with the pain of contractions and apparently it helped speed up the rest of your labour stages. I read that you can drink up to 4 cups a day. So, I drank down a cup and then made another. After drinking half my second cup, I didn't want anymore. It wasn't very delicious. I also then realized that I wasn't progressing and maybe it's because I wasn't focusing enough since I was in a room with 3 other people.

So, with Dolly Parton bellowing out of the speakers, I went and sat on my bed. Alone. Cross legged. It was peaceful. I just closed my eyes and rolled my hips with the music. You gotta help that baby down!! My first contraction after that was painful. Long and painful! "Excellent!" I thought. After about 6 minutes, another one came. I really had to breath and moan through that one. Another 5 or 6 minutes later, another one! I started to think to myself that even though these are quite far apart, I feel like this is a good time to call the rest of the birthing team. I knew she was coming.

I went downstairs and sat on the second last stair and told Julian it was time to call the Midwives, and Bree-Ann (a friend who I believe is now an officially certified Doula...I can pass her info your way if you need!!), and our photographer Meg (who didn't make it in time, but arrived afterwards and got photos of our new family.) Every contraction from there just came faster and faster and faster!! They were SO intense because they were happening so fast and became just very painful FAST! The pressure was INTENSE!

Bree-Ann arrived first! She lives a few blocks away and luckily her husband was already at home to watch their little one. She jumped right in and was trying out different things to relieve my pain. Carolyn, one of the incredible midwives on my team arrived next and said she didn't even need to check me, she was certain I was going to have my baby soon. She recommended that if I wanted a water birth that I should fill up the tub right away. It doesn't take that long to fill up and I didn't really feel like being in the water yet. But Carolyn thought this baby was gonna come sooner then I thought. So, my Mum and Auntie (who are team super women) went to fill the pool. Carolyn called Lisa, my other incredible midwife and she arrived pronto! Everyone was just getting stuff prepared pretty fast. I just remember everything happening so fast.

Julian had a great music mix going. Dear friends of ours who are living in France at the moment, sent their love and support in the form of a song. 'Push It' by Salt n' Pepa! It made me laugh. And then I saw Carolyn preparing needles and putting them aside, which stopped me in my tracks and I refocused on reality and just said, "what's that for!!!??" I am NOT okay with needles. (You should see me during a simple blood test, ha ha ha!) She just explained calmly that she was just preparing and she may not need them. It was Oxytocin and it was in case there's too much blood loss. I  knew that, but I just needed to know that she probably wasn't using it. I was relieved and went back to my labour pains.

The pains at this point were becoming unbearable. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, but I knew that wouldn't help, so I just moaned and breathed and swore. I couldn't get relief. This was not like my first birth. With Adelaide, I had lots of lower back pain which was easy to relieve by getting on all 4's, swaying my hips and having pressure applied to my lower back. With Audrey all the pain was in my lower abdomen. The pressure was seriously INSANE! I got in the water thinking that might help, but I just couldn't find relief in any way at this point.

I was leaning over the side of the tub, which was still being filled up and I just started pushing. My body just automatically started pushing. I thought, "no no, it's too soon". But the pressure, it was killing me. I just started saying, "I can't do this, I can't do this", and then I thought to myself, if I'm at that moment where I feel like I am dying, then I must be close to the end. All of a sudden I wanted to push again, so I said, "I NEED TO PUSH?!" And the midwife said, "okay." I still wasn't sure if that could be right. I expected to feel relief with my water breaking like I did with Adelaide (my water broke with her about 20 minutes before I had to push) but I was not feeling any relief. Just A LOT of pressure.And it had only been like 40 or 45 minutes since the team showed up.

I put my hand between my legs and then said, "yep, something is coming out!" I can't even describe the pressure!! I knew that I should slow down, but nope, my body wasn't slowing down for anything. I just pushed and pushed. They told me to slow down and I thought about the tearing. I knew if I couldn't handle a needle, then getting stitched certainly wouldn't go over very well. I breathed HARD and tried with all my might not to push. I wanted to bite Julian so hard, but I was at least sensible enough not to, lol. I felt down between my legs again because the pressure was so bad and I then realized why. I could feel her coming out in her caul! My water hadn't broke!! So I was birthing the whole caul!! No wonder the pressure was so intense! "Okay, focus!" I thought to myself. I then realized that the Beyonce song called Listen from Dream Girls was playing (and I LOVE that movie) so I just started singing to it to try and focus on something else. Haha!! And some how that gave me the strength to get to my next contraction where I pushed and felt nothing but relief. The pressure was gone, the "ring of fire" was gone. With that last push, at 4:41pm, the water broke as she flew out. The pain was over and I knew when I turned around, my baby would be there. I saw the look of joy and amazement on Julian's face, so I quickly turned around and I couldn't believe what just happened.

I was looking at my baby girl. I was in shock. I had no time to process what happened, it all happened so fast. I turned around with help, and took my baby that was still attached to me and I laid back and placed her on my chest.

It felt SO good. This is where you get to experience birth high. It is by far the greatest feeling I have ever felt! (because, "it is after the birth of the baby and before the delivery of the placenta that women have the capacity to reach the highest possible peak of oxytocin.".)

So I just laid there and felt so wonderful. When all that rich blood from the placenta went in to the baby and the umbilical cord was white, Julian cut the baby from me. He took the baby and I got out of the pool and laid on the floor with pillows and blankets so I could deliver the placenta. Carolyn examined me and there was very little damage. I needed no stitches! PHEW! I sat on the couch where there was cinnamon raisin toast and strawberries, raspberries and bananas waiting for me! I was handed my baby and she found her way to the boob and latched on like she'd done it before. Such a pro.

We sat around talking about the birth that just happened. It was good to make sense of it. Lisa said she had never seen a baby born in the caul before, and Carolyn said she had only ever seen it one other time about 4 years ago. It's a rare and special thing. Here's a bit of history for you from Wikipedia:

"In medieval times the appearance of a caul on a newborn baby was seen as a sign of good luck. It was considered an omen that the child was destined for greatness. Gathering the caul onto paper was considered an important tradition of childbirth: the midwife would rub a sheet of paper across the baby's head and face, pressing the material of the caul onto the paper. The caul would then be presented to the mother, to be kept as an heirloom. Some Early Modern European traditions linked caul birth to the ability to defend fertility and the harvest against the forces of evil, particularly witches and sorcerers.
A legend developed suggesting that possession of a baby's caul would give its bearer good luck and protect that person from death by drowning. Cauls were therefore highly prized by sailors. Medieval women often sold these cauls to sailors for large sums of money; a caul was regarded as a valuable talisman.
The author J. G. Farrell was born with a caul, but he drowned while fly fishing.
In modern times those born with the caul claim to possess preternatural abilities."

A lot of women would think I am lucky to have had such a fast birth, but ya know, I prefer a longer birth. Not that Adelaide's birth was that long (about 14 hours of labour and only 5 of those hours were hard labour), but I was hoping and maybe even planning for a similar birth to Adelaide's. I had a watermelon and was going to make roll kuchen (a delicious Mennonite snack that you eat with watermelon), Julian was going to make real Indian chai, and we had hours of awesome music to get through! But alas, it was all over too fast. There was no time to process what was happening and before I could catch my breath, I had pushed her out, so then I was just in shock for a moment. It was overwhelming, but still just an incredible and beautiful experience.

We weighed the and measured Audrey, checked me again and we were both just perfect. She weighed 7lbs 4oz. and measured 20 inches long. It was time to call Carole and Adelaide.

We were a little nervous how Adelaide was going to be with all this. Every day leading up to the birth we would talk to her about it. Even though she's so young she seemed to catch on that the baby was growing in my belly and it was eventually going to come out of my body and would drink milk from my breasts. She always seemed excited about it, but I wasn't sure how much she really understood.

 Adelaide was a little overwhelmed mainly because there was a lot going on. Lots of people, all the birthing equipment was being packed up, the new baby, tired parents that she hadn't seen since the morning of the day before, and our friend Meg (our photographer.) But the next day and every day since has been wonderful. Adelaide is so in love with Audrey. Always gets excited when the baby is awake. Always wants to hold the baby and kiss the baby. She just seems so understanding. It's an incredible feeling when you watch your kids together like that. I can't believe how lucky I am. I really love my life and all the people in it.

HUGE thanks to all of you who were involved in this perfect day. My Mum, my Aunt, Carolyn and Lisa (my midwives who were at the birth), Toni and Jocelyn (my other 2 midwives on my team but weren't at the birth), Bree-Ann, Carole, Sonya (without her help, I'm not sure I would have gotten a midwife) and Meg. There's so many other people to thank for being so supportive around this time. But my sister Christine gets a huge shout out for being SO darn helpful. She looks after Adelaide about once a week for us! It's great! Adelaide loves going there to play with her (almost) 3 year old cousin Kadence! To have this kind of support from our family and friends is just unreal. It's this kind of support that makes being a mother of two SO much more enjoyable. THANK YOU! xoxoxoxo!

The slideshow below is a collection of images taken by Bree-Ann.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gooiest Cinnamon Buns.

These delicious cinnamon buns are pretty darn easy and seriously GOOOOOOEY!! I love recipes that involve lots of step by step photos, so I've added lots of photos for you too.

What you'll need:



In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter and salt; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, milk mixture, eggs and 1 1/2 cup flour; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

While dough is rising, melt 3/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Pour into greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle bottom of pan with 1/2 cup pecans; set aside. Melt remaining butter; set aside. Combine remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup pecans, and cinnamon; set aside.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, roll into an 18x14 inch rectangle. 

Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter, leaving 1/2 inch border uncovered; sprinkle with brown sugar cinnamon mixture. 

Starting at long side, tightly roll up, pinching seam to seal. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. 

With serrated knife, cut into 15 pieces. 

Place cut side down, in prepared pan. 

Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in volume.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. 

Let cool in pan for 3 minutes,

 then invert onto serving platter. Scrape remaining filling from the pan onto the rolls.

Stay tuned next week (so long as I'm not in labour) for another recipe from me and my kitchen!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Double Chocolate Mousse Filled Fresh Mint Cupcakes

These double chocolate mousse filled fresh mint cupcakes are easy, delicious and dressed to impress. These recipes here will make enough for 12 cupcakes. Have fun decorating!

So, you'll have to start with the chocolate cupcake!

You'll need:
1 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoon vanillas extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup of chocolate chips, or coarsely chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a bowl, whisk egg and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk, melted butter and vanilla, and mix until combined. Sift dry ingredients together and add to wet mixture. Mix until batter is smooth. Fold in milk chocolate. Line a muffin tin with liners and measure a heaping 1/4 cup of the batter to place in each liner. Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool.

Then you'll need to make chocolate mousse. This recipe is SUPER fast and easy. About 5 minutes actually! Aaaaaaand, you'll have left overs to eat afterwards if you want!

You'll need:
4 oz high quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup extra fine sugar
1 large egg

In a small saucepan, heat half of the cream until it begins to boil. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate pieces and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl set over a large bowl of iced water and add the rest of the cream. Using a hand-held mixer, beat the mixture to soft peaks. Remove the bowl from the iced water. Separate egg white into a stainless steal bowl. Whisk the egg white with a hand-held mixer, beat until stiff peaks start to form. Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue whisking to a soft meringue. Carefully fold the meringue through the chocolate mixture, then place some in your piping bag. 
(If you don't want to make mousse from scratch, I recommend whipping up a package of Dr Oetker's chocolate mousse.)

Take your cooled cupcakes and cut in to the top taking a small amount in the centre out. Cut the bottom of that little scooped part off and eat it. You want to have enough room in the centre of your cupcake for the chocolate mousse. Then pipe the mousse in the centre of the cupcake and place the top back on!
Now you'll need to make the icing!  

You'll need:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped very fine
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed
food colouring

Beat butter in the bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add in powdered sugar gradually (about 1/2 cup at a time) with the mixer on low speed, slowly increasing the speed and it combines. Add food colouring (I added about 15 drops of green to get this colour. Add in fresh mint and vanilla and continue to mix. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl about 4-5 times, and mix for about 4-5 minutes on medium-high speed. Add in milk one tablespoons at a time if you need it or find that the frosting is not creamy enough. Place in piping bag. 

Place icing in to a piping bag and decorate those cupcakes! I then garnished with a simple fresh mint leaf, but you can do whatever you want! They will look beautiful and blow peoples minds because when you use the fresh mint over an extract, it makes them taste UNREAL!

Seriously?! Look at these! Amazing! And SO SO DELICIOUS! 

Stay tuned next Sunday for another recipe from me and my kitchen! (But don't worry, I will also blog before then too!)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Mini Session Event

I am having a SUMMER MINI SESSION EVENT from August 8th to the 12th! Click the photo below for more info!

Not only that, but, I am trying to get to 200 fans on my photography fanpage:
If I make it to 200 fans by the end of the month of July, I will be GIVING AWAY one mini session for FREE!!! Woohoo!! So, if you've been meaning to get portraits of your family, or kids, or yourself or with your partner or friend or even your pets, then here's your opportunity! Come like my page! And if you really love me, then please, share the news too!